How to make electronic music: An equipment buying guide for producers

Audio & Video Accessories

The first music album to be completely recorded in Pro Tools digital audio workspace was the Beach Boys’ “Summer In Paradise” in 1992. The computer used for capturing the sounds was a Macintosh Quadra.

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Everything you’ll need to create banging tunes and sweet loops

Throughout cultures across the world, music has played an integral part in their identity, society and rituals. While the term “music” is a catch-all phrase for the art of arranging sounds, it comes in many different forms. Technology has evolved alongside the melodies and harmonies, making it possible to create emotional ballads or foot-stomping songs from almost anywhere. But to do that, you’ll need some very specific equipment. 

Best computer for digital audio production

Arguably the most important piece of equipment you’ll need for making music is a powerful computer. This serves as the central hub for all the beats and riffs, and it is where mixing takes place. 

Top Apple computer for digital audio production

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

Apple MacBook Pro 16-inch

What you need to know: This is the most commonly used laptop for creative design and audio production.

What you’ll love: Apple’s MacBook series has long been a favorite of music producers around the world. With the Intel Core i9 processor, it is capable of handling the most strenuous of tasks, and the 1TB of storage is more than enough for remixes, masters and recording. It has a 16-inch display, large enough to work comfortably in any digital audio workspace.

What you should consider: The MacBook comes with a steep price tag, and that might put it out of reach for most. It is also notoriously difficult to upgrade if you require a bit more power under the hood.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top Windows computer for digital audio production

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

Razer Blade 15 Studio Edition

What you need to know: Powerful components make short work of long recording sessions.

What you’ll love: The Blade 15 Studio Edition is packed with features that every music producer will love. It has a 15-inch 4K OLED touchscreen, Intel Core i7-10875H processor, 32GB RAM, and 1TB of super-fast SSD storage. The display is powered by an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2080, while the keyboard is compatible with Razer’s Chroma RGB.

What you should consider: It’s more expensive than an Apple MacBook, but a great value for what is included.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best digital audio workspace

Commonly known by the DAW abbreviation, a digital audio workspace is software you load onto your laptop or computer. Without it, you won’t have any way of importing or recording tracks. The workspace is also required to create loops, instruments and sounds. One of the best free DAWs available is Apple’s GarageBand.

Top digital audio workspace

AVID Pro Tools Multitrack Recording

AVID Pro Tools Multitrack Recording

What you need to know: A fully-featured program, it has been trusted by producers for decades.

What you’ll love: Widely used not only in the music industry but also for films and television, Pro Tools provides you with everything you need to compose, record, edit, and mix music and audio. That latest version of the software adds the ability for others to collaborate on your work through the cloud. It bundles in 60 virtual instruments, over a thousand sounds, effects, sound processing functions and utility plug-ins.

What you should consider: The perpetual license is a bit expensive for first-time producers, and it comes with a steep learning curve.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top digital audio workspace for the money

Reason Studios AB Multitrack Recording

Reason Studios AB Multitrack Recording

What you need to know: An easy-to-use platform, it has thousands of options.

What you’ll love: Reason is also widely used in the music industry, as it’s easy to get started. It features 28 instruments, 31 sound effects, and seven Player MIDI effects. It also has a huge bank of over 29,000 patches, loops and samples. The software can be used as a plug-in with other DAWs or it can be used as a stand-alone process. It is available in three different versions.

What you should consider: Several of the patches or effects will take some time to figure out if you aren’t familiar with the software.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best DAW controller

Now that you have the computer and the digital audio workspace, you need an audio mixer or DAW controller to bring everything together. The DAW controller is used together with the DAW software to change a host of settings in the software.

Top DAW controller

Avid DAW Controller

Avid DAW Controller

What you need to know: Sleek and fully-featured, it can be used wherever you are.

What you’ll love: Made by the same company behind Pro Tools, this DAW controller is perfect for producers on the road, or those who prefer to use a tablet. By clipping the tablet into place, the controller gives you access to eight touch-sensitive, motorized faders and assignable channel encoders. It also has a charging port for keeping the tablet powered up.

What you should consider: The docked charger is only compatible with iPads.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top DAW controller for the money

Behringer XTouch

Behringer XTouch

What you need to know: This is the perfect device for studio recordings or live performances.

What you’ll love: The XTouch is a powerful mixer that has most of the important features and functions needed. It has nine fully automated and touch-sensitive 100mm motorized faders, eight dynamic LCD scribble strips, and an Ethernet interface for MIDI.

What you should consider: The mixer is slightly larger than what you would expect, so make sure you have enough room.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Best studio monitor and headphones

Your chosen computer or laptop will have speakers, but they are nowhere near sufficient for music production. To hear exactly what the recording sounds like, you’ll need studio monitors (speakers) and/or studio headphones.

Top studio monitors

PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors

PreSonus Eris E3.5 Studio Monitors

What you need to know: This is what the professionals use.

What you’ll love: To listen to recordings or fresh mixes, you’ll need great quality studio monitors and that is where the PreSonus Eris E3.5 comes in. The 3.5-inch woven composite drivers provide powerful bass, and when coupled with the 100W Class AB amplifier, delivers clear sound. The bundle comes with an 8-inch, front-firing transducer and access to the Studio One Prime and Studio Magic plug-in suite.

What you should consider: Some buyers have noted that the monitor can produce a slight hum or feedback.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top studio headphones

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

Audio-Technica ATH-M50X

What you need to know: They are great quality for private listening and mixing sessions.

What you’ll love: Used by a lot of studio engineers, Audio-Technica’s headphones deliver crystal-clear audio, which is exactly what you need when fine-tuning musical creations. They feature 45mm audio drivers, rare earth magnets, and copper-clad aluminum wire voice coils. This all contributes to their clarity and wide-ranging frequency. The ear cups can rotate 90-degrees, and the audio cable is detachable.

What you should consider: They are slightly more expensive than other models with the same specifications.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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